You be the potential juror….

You’re summoned for jury duty. After spending two and half blissful days in the dim quiet of the jury assembly room, reading a Haruki Murakami novel and eating fries from the courtroom cafeteria, you’re called up to the 13th floor as part of a panel of potential jurors. The judge and the attorneys will ask questions of the panel and choose about half of you to serve on the actual jury.

You raise your right hand and swear that you will answer the questions truthfully and completely to the best of your ability. Then the judge asks all the potential jurors to take a good look at the people in the room: the attorneys, the defendant, the judge himself, and state whether any of you knows or has met any of them before. You look at them all. You don’t know the defendant or the judge. And the attorneys: Baah, you think, attorneys in suits. I don’t know any attorneys, so I definitely don’t know these guys.

The judge moves to a long list of other questions, and each panel member answers in exhaustive, perhaps excessive, detail. The afternoon wears on. The questions go on. The court adjourns for the day before the prosecution’s questions.

On the way home on the bus, you think, Huh. There was something kind of familiar about that prosecuting attorney. But I don’t know any attorneys.

Then you remember how your best friend’s grad school friend’s boyfriend is an attorney, and, what a coincidence, isn’t he a prosecutor for the state? And didn’t you meet him once a couple of years ago at your friends’ wedding and also at a party at your house? And didn’t he look kind of like that attorney today? But you’re not sure, and your friend-of-a-friend, you only knew his first name, and apparently in court everyone is “Mr.” and “Miss”, so you have no name evidence to go on, and you sort of put it out of your mind because, meh, what are the chances? It’s a big county.

But then the next morning back in the courtroom you think, Hmmm. That could actually be my friend’s friend’s boyfriend. He does not appear to recognize you.

Do you:

A) Raise your hand and tell the judge you’ve realized that you and the prosecutor have met a couple of times, risking complete embarrassment if it’s not actually your friend-of-a-friend, which is a real possibility because you met at least a year and a half ago, and still no one has said his first name, and you have a sucky memory for faces.

B) Try to get the attorney’s attention as he walks into the room and ask him privately if you’ve met. Pssst, hey, don’t I know you?, risking a more private form of embarrassment either way, plus, who knows, maybe contempt of court for improperly communicating with the prosecution.

C) Convince yourself that you haven’t ever actually met this guy before, and plan to play dumb if he or anyone else calls you on it. You don’t know him well enough to have your relationship influence anything about your actions as a juror, anyway.

D) Fret about it quietly, take no decisive action, and breathe a sigh of relief when you’re not selected for the jury.


7 thoughts on “You be the potential juror….

  1. A, but I’m not that easily embarrassed. I’m kind of amazed that you could actually remember a name or context, but not a face. I’m the exact opposite–I can forget the names of people I know really well, mostly remember where I know a familiar face from (& if I don’t remember the exact context, I at least know how significant it was), and always remember whether I’ve seen someone before . But what was your name (or the title of that book, or that author’s name, etc.) again?

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